Thanks to all of you who have responded to my "wedding tradition" posting. I am going to publish two that I think are both funny and interesting. Thanks to all who wrote and of course for reading!
I was fortunate enough to attend my friend Matt's marriage to a lovely Macedonian woman in Skopje, the capital of that lovely kidney bean-shaped Balkan jewel. The high point of the ceremony, which was sung acapella as is the custom in the Orthodox church, was at the end when the best man had to take the crowns off of the couple's heads, one in each hand, and swap them back and forth three times without letting the crowns touch...if they do touch, there will be no male children (a fate worse than death, I guess). The grand finale was the bride's walk around the church, being pelted with coins and candy. Having not been apprised of what to bring, I used what I had - sticks of chewing gum. The bride's grandmother was seen asking people if I was mentally retarded or merely poorly brought up, since I obviously didn't know how to behave properly at a wedding. She also was a little to interested in why I didn't have either a husband or children, more signs that there was something drastically wrong with me!
I haven't witnessed this, but was told that in Albanian cultures the groom is given a very special gift by the bride's father - a bullet, which he is to use to kill her if she "dishonors" her husband or his family. There also has to be someone in the weddng party to carry the dead sheep for the feast, but that's another story entirely...
Melinda, London, England
Dear Broad Abroad:
Have you ever been to an Orthodox Jewish wedding? The bride and groom fast the day of their wedding - no food or drink.
The day starts with the men in one room finalizing the marriage & legal papers (with Crown Royal) and the female guests greeting the bride. Eventually the men dance the groom from their room to where the bride is, with the guests looking on singing and clapping. Here he raises her veil to make sure he has the right woman (reminiscent of the whole Rachel/Leah confusion in the bible). The ceremony includes the bride walking 7 times around the groom and the famous breaking of the glass to remember the destruction of the holy temple in Israel. After the ceremony the bride and groom disappear. In modern day it is for photos, but that's not what they were doing in the long ago past!
Then lots of dancing for hours - with the men and women on opposite ends of the room. People think it is a mitzvah (good deed) to entertain the bride and groom, so they do silly things like juggle, come in gorilla costumes and breakdance. Yes, Rabbi Shwarmitz is suddenly spinning plates on his nose - a talent no one knew he had!
My brother, being the rebel he is, took tango lessons and actually danced with his bride at his wedding to the surprise of all the rabbis in the room. HE TOUCHED her in public!
It is a true PARTY atmosphere!!